The Church in Tatsfield dates from around 1075. A Domesday reference mentions Tatsfield Manor as “held by Anschitell de Ros of Bishop Odo of Bayeux” (half brother to William the Conqueror) in 1068, and it is believed the nave was built about this time. In 2005 in connection with a television programme about the Princes of Wales, the land behind the church, near where the horses currently graze, was excavated to reveal the foundations of the former manor house. Welsh prince, Thomas ap Rhys, son of Rhys ap Llewellyn, became Lord of the Manor and is thought to have been responsible for the addition of the chancel in the thirteenth century. Over the centuries there have been many additions/alterations. During 1959 the church was wired for electricity. In the same year the church was dedicated to St Mary by the then Bishop of Southwark, Mervyn Stockwood. In the 1960’s, under the oversight of the Rector, Reverend Ken Lewis, the church underwent a major refurbishment, including the addition of the current vestry.
In 1967 a ‘Sharing Agreement’ was entered into with the Roman Catholic church locally, enabling them to share the building and celebrate weekly Mass with their congregation, sandwiched between the two Anglican services each Sunday morning. In 1994 due to the lack of a minister, the village United Reformed Church, St Andrew’s congregation came to St Mary’s where they also had a monthly service of their own. Sadly, neither of these congregations meet at St Mary’s today, due to the lack of Priests/Ministers, but the Sharing Agreement still stands.
The Patronage of St Mary’s Church was formerly in the gift of the Leveson Gower brothers of Titsey Place, Oxted. In 1977 the patronage was handed over to the Bishop of Southwark, within whose Diocese St Mary’s sits. We still enjoy a good relationship with the Titsey Estate and value their generous donations of flowers, foliage and produce for our Harvest and Flower Festivals.
In 1985 the Titsey group of Churches was formed, comprising the parishes of Limpsfield and Titsey, and Tatsfield and the four churches within them. In 2010 this group further evolved to the Limpsfield & Tatsfield Team Ministry (LTTM), with a Rector in Limpsfield, and currently Team Vicars in Tatsfield and Limpsfield Chart.
St Mary’s Church, although a little way from the actual pathway, is a ‘Pilgrim Church’ and is often visited by those making Pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury along the Pilgrim’s Way. There is a rubber stamp for use by pilgrims on their ‘pilgrim passport’ in the church.
Saint Mary’s Tatsfield Guide and History is available from the Narthex in the church or by application to the Rectory.